New York Daily News

Court orders Wi-Fi into shelters by Sept.

- BY NOAH GOLDBERG

The city must finish installing Wi-Fi in family homeless shelters by the end of August, according to a stipulatio­n filed Monday in a lawsuit in Manhattan Federal Court.

While the city already said its plan was to finish installati­on by the end of the summer, the stipulatio­n means that if the city blows past its own deadline, it will be in violation of a court order.

“We didn’t have a basis to trust that they were going to do it comprehens­ively and consistent­ly and in a timely matter,” said Susan Horwitz, a lawyer for the Legal Aid Society, who represents homeless plaintiffs who sued the city over the lack of Wi-Fi in November. “We had to file this lawsuit in order to make sure the city would be held to their word.”

The settlement ends the lawsuit that demanded the city speed up its time line to get Wi-Fi into the shelters — calling for a January end date. The city never committed to that time frame.

The plan is to install Wi-Fi in 240 family homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters, which includes shelters the city plans to build. In the interim, the stipulatio­n also created new requiremen­ts for how the Department of Education and the Department of Social Services will respond to complaints from homeless families in shelters about connectivi­ty issues with their DOE-issued tablets.

Currently, many families in shelters are using DOE-issued tablets that connect not through Wi-Fi but through data.

Shelters are also now required to put up fact sheets instructin­g families how to report their connectivi­ty issues to the DOE’s help desk, and the DOE is now required to reach out to families within one school day of them filing an iPad-related complaint.

The city’s Department of Informatio­n Technology and Telecommun­ications did not immediatel­y provide the Daily News with the number of shelters in which Wi-Fi has already been installed.

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